We’re ready: Clichy confident as City prepare for Napoli visit
Published 13/09/2011 | 14:48
DEFENDER Gael Clichy is confident Manchester City can make a big impact in their maiden Champions League campaign.
City make their long-awaited entrance in Europe's elite club competition tomorrow as they take on Italian side Napoli in their Group A opener at the Etihad Stadium.
Roberto Mancini's expensively-assembled side have made a flying start to their domestic campaign and summer signing Clichy expects that to continue.
The former Arsenal player is one of a number of City stars with plenty of Champions League experience, having made 42 appearances during his eight seasons in north London.
The 26-year-old said: "I am lucky enough to have been able to play in a few Champions League games for Arsenal, which was good, but I am aware it's a new competition for this club.
"It's not only me who has played in it before - Yaya (Toure) has won it.
"For us it may be one more game, like many we have played in the past, but we have to be aware it's a big part of City's season this year.
"We have to make sure that if there is something we can bring in terms of experience - and it may just be a little thing - that we bring it.
"Then maybe we can make the kind of statement in the Champions League we have been making since the start of the season.
"The confidence is there, and we go into this competition with no fear."
City will also play German giants Bayern Munich and Spanish side Villarreal during the group stage.
The group is considered one of the toughest in the competition and Clichy has brushed aside suggestions Napoli, third in Serie A last year, will be the easiest of the opponents.
"That is the view of people who don't really know about football," said the Frenchman.
"They are a strong side, and if you are at this stage of the competition and in the group, it means you have qualities.
"Champions League is a totally different kind of football."
Clichy joined City in a £7m deal in July and has so far been sharing left-back duties with Aleksandar Kolarov.
Clichy is keen to play as much as possible but accepts squad rotation is a necessity.
He said: "When you sign for a club like City, with all those players, you have to be ready for the competition.
"You have to keep rotating - I have been there with Arsenal.
"When you are not injured and not playing you feel a bit upset, but that will pay off after December because we are playing every three days and you need a big squad to go all the way through."
While Clichy has revelled in City's outstanding start to the season - four league wins with 15 goals scored - the club he left behind have laboured.
The Gunners lost two of their star players in Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, the latter to City, and were thrashed 8-2 at Manchester United last month.
Clichy added: "I am sure they will be up there at the end of the season.
"They won at the weekend and it could be the turning point of their season.
"No-one is happy to start the season like that.
"Fortunately I am not playing for Arsenal any more, and I am just enjoying my time here.
"Hopefully we can stay focused on our performances."